Anna Hilburgh, a senior at Waynesville High School, has been named as a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program — a highly selective, academic competition for recognition and scholarships. Her father, Col. Adam Hilburgh, serves as the 3rd Chemical Brigade commander on Fort Leonard Wood.
According to the NMSP website, “Of the 1.6 million entrants, some 50,000 with the highest Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test Selection Index scores (calculated by doubling the sum of the reading, writing and language, and math test scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program.”
About 15,000 students qualify as finalists every year, the program’s website states. Hilburgh and her family were notified Feb. 10 that she made the cut.
What motivated you to succeed in high school?
I always work to succeed in everything I do, including high school. College, however, was a strong motivator because if I succeeded in high school, I would be competitive for a strong college that’ll prepare me for the future.
Which accolade or accomplishment means the most to you and why?
Being a National Merit Scholarship Program finalist is the accomplishment that means most to me. It’s recognition of the four years of studying, extra-curriculars, standardized tests and hard work.
What field do you plan to study in college? Why did you choose this field?
I have been accepted into the Texas A&M Engineering Honors Program, and I plan on studying mechanical engineering. After attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology Beaver Works Program in the Assistive Technology Course, I discovered that I enjoy mechanical design and having the ability to create tangible things that can benefit individuals and society.
Which experts — or even mentors/teachers — in that field have influenced you?
My teachers at the Science and Math Academy in Aberdeen, Maryland, which I attended during sophomore and junior year, cultivated and refined my love of engineering and helped push me to achieve.
How did you deal with the stress of academics?
To de-stress, I relax with a book or go swimming.
What does it mean to you to be named a finalist for such a selective award?
To me, being named finalist justifies all of my hard work in high school and motivates me to continue that hard work into college, towards success.
What do you hope to achieve within the next four years?
Within the next four years, I hope to achieve a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M.
How has being a member of a military family affected you?
As a member of a military family, I was taught the importance of hard work and adaptability. I had to move three times while in high school, but I still pushed to succeed no matter where I was because of my military ties, not despite it.
What kind of impact have your parents had on your academic
My parents have always encouraged and supported me to be the best that I could be, and without them, I would never have succeeded as much as I have now.